Recovering With the Redbirds

October 2, 2021  (Post #64)

(From Journal #9:  May 1, 2007)

Finally had the hernia surgery a couple of days ago.  The doctor had blocked off 45 minutes, but it turned out to be 3 hours!  You exposed the darkness again; there were two more hernias behind this one.  Instead of 4 incisions, I have 20!  The pain afterward was excruciating.  They gave me 4 or 5 narcotics and nothing helped.  Finally they gave me some super anti-inflammatory and it stopped the pain, praise! Thank You for seeing me through it.

I’ve been recovering and resting on the couch in the sitting room.  Yesterday, I kept seeing a male and female redbird going in/out of the butterfly bush by the window.  Right there in the bush, not four feet off the ground, is a nest with three babies!  Their mouths were wide open and hungry.  Both the male and female took turns feeding them all day.  Oh Lord, what a beautiful gift!  I just love them.

Today, I’ve spent the past two hours just watching in awe. One of them left the nest and made his way far on the other side of the next bush.  He’s a feisty little guy.  When he first left the nest, I could see was scared and wobbly.  His mother kept flying in to feed the other two still in the nest, but he would not be ignored.  He followed his mother to the next bush and kept chirping at her!  (…forceful men lay hold of it…)  He must be the “Peter” of the three.  The other two watched him.  One seemed interested in getting out and the other kept huddling down in the comfort and security of the nest.  Lord, what a spectacular thing to behold.  How amazing are the works of Your hands?  Thank you for giving me a front row seat to witness this while I recover.

We’re not so different from the birds, are we?  We’re often too afraid to step out in faith and leave the secure nest.  The father and mother kept circling the bush.  They kept their eyes on him, but allowed him to venture out and try his wings.  They didn’t abandon him, but allowed him to grow and to experience life.  You do the same with us.  You ask us to step out in faith, but You keep Your protective eyes on us as we wobble along the journey and strengthen our legs.  We are not alone.  What a lesson, Lord!

I left the room for a while and when I returned I saw how far Peter had traveled.  I hope he and the others continue to call these bushes home and will visit often.  He’s quite a “chirper.” 

Matthew 6:25-26:  ”Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet Your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Psalm 34:15:  The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.

John 14:18:  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

Am I Ever Going to Change?

September 13, 2021  (Post #63)

(From Journal #9:  April 7, 2007)

As I was driving earlier today, I was listening to a teaching on the radio about “am I ever going to change?”  It was good for me to hear it because there are so many things in my life I need to change, but I cannot.  I need You to change me.  I just pulled over to the side of the road and prayed that today would be the day I turn everything over to you.  The preacher said it won’t happen overnight and not to be self-condemning during the process, but trust the Holy Spirit to convict, teach, and lead me to change and it will happen. 

Here are areas I can identify now.  Each one affects the others. I’m trusting You to show me every area in need of change.

Love Walk:  Help me to love others when they aren’t behaving the way “I” want them to.  I cannot control or change others; how could I when obviously I cannot change myself…?

1 Timothy 1:5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Control My Tongue:   Too often I still let coarse language out of my mouth.  Too often I am critical of others and of myself.  Controlling my tongue has a direct affect on my love walk too.  

Proverbs 15: 1, 4:  A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life… 

Proverbs 10:19:  When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.

Self Control:  I haven’t been able to lose some extra pounds I’ve gained or get into a regular exercise routine.  I usually set unrealistic goals too soon, and when I fail to meet them I get discouraged and give up.  I don’t like exercise, plain and simple.  Help me get to the place where I do enjoy it and am willing to do it.  There are disabled people who would give anything to be able to exercise.  Forgive me, Lord.

Galatians 5:16-17:  So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

Galatians 5:22-23:  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 

Productivity:  Too often I just can’t seem to get going and tackle things that need to get done, and then I get down on myself.  I want to be more focused and less distracted by wasteful things like TV, computer, etc. By becoming more focused and organized I’ll have more time for Kingdom purposes.

Proverbs 31:17,27:  She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Sleep:  Help me identify the things that impede and interrupt sleep and give them to You.  I know I need more sleep and better sleep in order to be more productive. 

Proverbs 3:24:  When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

Psalm 4:8  In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Fear:  I know that fear isn’t from You.  I don’t want the enemy to have an opening to use fear against me in any area:  healing, financial stability, my family’s protection, painting — anything.  I want to give it all to You, and grow in faith and trust.

2 Timothy 1:7:  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Proverbs 1:33:  …but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, and will be secure, without fear of harm.

3 Kinds of Suffering

August 25, 2021 (Post #62)

(From Journal #9:  April 2, 2007)

I listened to a sermon today that, quite frankly, didn’t fully align with my spirit.  It was about suffering.  Lord, none of us will ever truly understand how much You suffered for our sins, and I cannot begin to express my gratefulness for what You did on the Cross.  Any suffering we experience in this world is not worthy to be measured.

Yet, I’m conflicted about some parts of the message.  I think there’s a difference between suffering for the glory and purposes of the Kingdom vs. suffering at the hands of the enemy or from our own bad choices.  Some people assume everything that happens to us must be Your will.  You are sovereign and in Your sovereignty, You gave us free will.  Honestly, Lord, this seems like a “cop-out” for not accepting responsibility for the consequences of our sin and bad decisions, or for not using the authority Jesus has given to His children to stand against the enemy.  This seems to make it easy to just blame You for everything, which doesn’t require much faith, fight or personal accountability.  This is how I see the “categories” of suffering and if I’m wrong, please help me to discern the error of my thinking.

Kingdom Suffering:  You told us that in this world we will have trials, tribulation and persecution.  We live in a fallen world full of evil and the people of God are a target.  Christians all over the world are persecuted, even to death.  Just by living out our faith and standing for Jesus, suffering does happen.  It doesn’t mean we did anything wrong.  We glorify You by how we walk through adversity standing on Your Word. 

Matthew 5:10-11:  “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

John 15:20   “…..If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you…”

2 Timothy 3:12:  Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

Demonic Suffering:  You tell us in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy” the people of God and we can suffer terribly if we are not aware of his attacks and fight against him.  He attacks us with fear, sickness, anxiety, deception, and danger. This is why You tell us to put on the Armor of God, be alert, and to stand against this kind of suffering.  You are always there to help us, but You told us to resist, stand, and fight.  I don’t think You “gave” me cancer.  Sickness is part of this fallen world. With every stripe You bore, You healed us. I didn’t knowingly do anything that could cause non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  It’s the enemy whose plan is to kill us.  But You take the things the enemy means for harm and use it for good.  As I fight this disease, my prayer is that I glorify You in the battle, and that I’m a good witness of Your healing, grace, mercy, and faithfulness.

1 Peter 5:8:  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Ephesians 6::11-12:  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

James 4:7:  Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

People-Induced Suffering:  So much suffering in this world is a direct consequence of sin and bad choices, either made by ourselves, or from others whose decisions impact our lives in devastating ways.  People have addictions and bad habits that cause physical and emotional suffering.  People make sinful decisions that not only destroy their lives but cause suffering to their family and loved ones as well.  It is never Your will for us to sin and make bad choices!  You are merciful and willing to offer forgiveness if we repent, but that doesn’t always mean the consequences go away.  But You are there to walk us through if we seek You with all our heart.  

Galatians 6:7-8:  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

James 1:5:  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Deuteronomy 30:19:  This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live…

1 John 1:9:  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Divine Appointments

August 14, 2001 (Post #61)

(From Journal #8: March 8, 2007)

My latest CT scan was on the 5th and praise You for a good report! The lymph nodes shrank again, to below 2 cm. I scan again in three months. The doctor gave me the green light to now have the abdominal hernia repaired.

A couple of days ago I went to Quizno’s for lunch. As I walked inside a woman and her mother walked in before me. The older lady reminded me so much of mother. She was dressed so cute and I complimented her as I stood behind them in line. As we chatted, I heard in my spirit that I was to buy their lunch. There was a line of people and I didn’t say anything. The older lady had a credit card in her hand. You told me again to buy their lunch, so I told her that I wanted to bless them and treat them to lunch. It was a total God-appointment!

We sat together to eat and Linda, the daughter, had recently lost her husband to cancer and was in fear of finances, health, etc., She admitted mumbling to herself about having no money to even buy their lunch. She was 6 months late on a follow-up mammogram that was actually scheduled for today and she was afraid to go. I shared my story of how You have helped me through my health battle and it seemed to bless her. She said because You reached out to her through me, she would go in new strength. Thank You, Lord.

Turns out the mom, Joan, is an artist too but hasn’t painted in years. And today, I took her to art class with me! I had no idea she was 84 years old. She lost her husband at Christmas and she is so lonely. She’d called me the day before and tentatively accepted the invitation. She needed to try and reschedule a conflicting appointment. She said she’d confirm one way or another either later that night or this morning. I didn’t hear from her and wondered if she’d changed her mind. I didn’t want to pressure her but I kept feeling You prompting me to call her just to be sure she was okay. Lord, she’d lost my number! She said she was dressed, ready to go and sitting there praying I would call. Oh, Jesus, how awesome are You?

She was nervous and scared to get started but once she did, she relaxed and had a good time. It was such a blessing to see this precious lady enjoying art once again. It almost felt like I was doing art with my mom. I bought her art supplies so she can start painting at home too. Thank You for bringing this sweet new friend into my life.

Proverbs 16:9:  A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.

Psalm 37:25:  The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way.

Wrestling the Serpent!

March 3, 2021   (Post #60)

(From Journal #8:  February 27, 2007)

I had a dream last night that in turn called to my remembrance an encounter I had with a snake years ago that is a testament to this dream…

In the dream, it seemed as if John and I were in a hotel room, and someone else was there, but I don’t know/remember who. (I’m thinking a guardian angel?)  Someone was trying to break into the room to kill us!  They had tried to kill us before and I remembered how we’d been kept safe and I was explaining it to this person and told them You would protect us, but we had to fight back and “armor up” but I knew we’d be okay, and we were! “Victory before the battle…”

My encounter with a snake was after I’d just seen the movie “The Passion of the Christ” which was released in 2004.  This happened even before I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  The spiritual significance of this encounter has revealed itself many times.  Snakes never announce themselves; they sneak in.  We have to be on watch and deal with them when they expose themselves.

I let the dogs out in the morning and went outside with them.  I was in my PJs and barefoot.  We had a koi pond and I went to check the skimmer.  As I had my hand in the water, I saw from my peripheral vision a snake head in the pond!  One of my bassets was drinking from the pond!  I was afraid the snake would strike my dog.  I jumped up and got long snippers that would reach and clip plants in the pond. I reached and managed to get the snake’s head in those clippers.  IMMEDIATELY, that snake came out of the water and wrapped itself around the shaft of that tool!  Freaked me out.  I was afraid to drop the tool for fear it would strike me or the dogs.

I realized I had to fight.  I began to squeeze those clippers as hard as I could on that serpent’s neck.  The problem was, I had a bad case of tennis elbow.  At that time, it was hard and painful for me to even squeeze a dish cloth. But as painful as it was, I knew I couldn’t let the serpent get away.  I thought of the movie and how Jesus ultimately crushed the serpent.  So I began to pray and kept squeezing that snake that fought me hard.  The Lord gave me strength to keep fighting.  After about 20 minutes or so, the snake finally quit fighting me; I’d killed him.  When I finally let him out of the clippers, I measured him and he was 31 inches long!  To me, that was huge.  This wasn’t just a victory against a natural snake in my pond.  This was a spiritual victory against an enemy that would come to attack my health and other areas of my life over and over.  I must always be on guard, confident that You are my protector.

Genesis 3:1:  Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made….

Psalm 91:13:  You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

2 Corinthians 2:11:   …lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

1 Peter 5:8:  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Ephesians 6:10-11:  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 

Revelation 20:2:  He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.

Lessons from the Beach

January 30, 2021:   (Post #59)

(From Journal #8:  February 24, 2007)

I’m at the beach with a group of ladies.  One of my friends and her husband built a beautiful house right on the coast.  After going through immunotherapy again, I’m so grateful to have this time away to just rest in You and fellowship with my friends.

This morning as I walked on the beach looking for shells, You taught me another life lesson.  We, like the shells, are made by You.  We were created to be whole and perfect, each beautiful in its own way – all shapes, sizes and colors.  But life, bad choices, even things out of our control, beat us up and we can be broken.  Even if only a tiny piece is on the beach, it’s still pretty to someone (You) who will pick it up and make something beautiful with it.  It still has value and worth.  What some will walk by, another will stop and gather.  They see something in that broken shell that someone else doesn’t. Some shells even mold together, similar to how we get help and support from others.  

Thank You for this revelation, Lord.  I am always humbled by the size and power of the ocean and yet You created it and hold it in the palm of Your hand!  How big is my God! 

Isaiah 40:12:  Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, measured heaven with a span and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?

Psalm 34:18:  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 51:17:  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Another Gut Punch!

January 17, 2021:  (Post #58)

(From Journal #8:   December 13, 2006)

Yesterday was my first round of immunotherapy again.  What a long day. Left the house at 7:30 a.m. and didn’t get home until almost 6:00 p.m.  I had another allergic reaction, so that slowed things down.  But this reaction wasn’t as severe as last time, so I am grateful.

My last CT scan report obviously wasn’t what I was believing for.  The lymph nodes that had previously shrunk had grown and a few more lymph nodes in that vicinity were larger.  I’m not going to try and pretend with You because You know the truth anyway.  I was disappointed and not excited about having to do treatments again.  The enemy has tried to bring frightening thoughts to my mind, but I refuse to listen.  I will take this treatment with the same faith as before!

I see how my quiet time with You keeps getting interrupted; the enemy knows “interruption and distraction” are his greatest weapons.  I need the Word before my eyes as well as in my ears. “Seeing is believing” and I need to “see” the Word as well as “hear” it.  His goal is to keep me from everything that increases my faith.  Help me to not cooperate with his schemes.

I know the truth and the truth shall set me free.  I will not let go of my confidence.  You are faithful.  Any thoughts that come into my mind contrary to Your Word, I resist in Jesus’ Name!

Romans 10:17:  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Proverbs 4:20-22:  My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.

John 8:31-32:  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Sold!

December 30, 2020  (Post #57)

(From Journal #7:  October 21, 2006)

Well, Lord, we did it!  Last night was the auction and our painting was the highest selling thing in the whole event!  Two people got into a bidding war and it sold for $3,300.00!  I’d set a minimum bid of $500 and was afraid no one would even bid that much.  Lord, how awesome are You???  I’m so excited to be able to help raise and give every dime of this money to fight cancer, the very thing the enemy wants to destroy me with.  Take that, devil!  My next CT scan is coming up in late November and I’m standing on Your Word that I am healed.

I humbly thank You for allowing me to be Your “brush.”  You’ve shown me that I can be used for the Kingdom of God.  I just need to be obedient, have faith in You and then in myself, not in my own strength but Yours.  I pray that “we,” namely You, do many wonderful paintings together to continue to bless and advance Your Kingdom in ways that I can’t even predict.   

This was a breakthrough moment and another layer added to Your Pearl…

Matthew 13:45:  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 

1 Peter 4:10:  As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Ephesians 2:10:  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Just be the Brush

December 13, 2020   (Post #56)

(From Journal #7:  October 9, 2006)

Lord, as I struggled to “see” what needed to be done on this painting, the Holy Spirit spoke the most powerful and beautiful words into my spirit.  This is what I heard:  “In the spiritual realm, you are My canvas.  In the natural world, you are My brush.  Just be the brush.”  Once I heard that, I realized that I am not responsible for how this painting turns out.  You are the Artist; You just want me to be Your brush.  You showed me that I am a painting, a spiritual canvas You work on.  I’m also a physical brush You use to paint pictures for others.  Every time I got stuck, frustrated and tense, I’d hear You saying, “Just be the brush” and I’d relax, get out of my head, and just paint. We are artists together.

You’ve guided my eyes and my hands and we’ve gotten so much done.  I know it’s Your strength, not mine, that has seen me through.  I was so leery of not only painting glass, but on such a large canvas.  But You pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to trust You alone, and of course, You didn’t let me down.  The confidence You are building in me is great – but it’s not confidence in myself that “I alone” can do anything.  It is confidence in myself that I can do anything You’ve called me to do as long as I rely on You.  I designed my own labels for the wine bottles and even added a cork lying on the table.  Today, I signed it!  We got this done in 9 days!  Glory to You!!!  I’m really pleased at how it turned out, and I named it “A Pearl from the Vine…”

I’ve questioned so many times how could You use me to be a blessing to the Kingdom?  And now, here You are helping me paint a picture to raise money to fight cancer!  May this painting be anointed and bring a huge sum to beat cancer!  AMEN!

Philippians 4:13:  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Ephesians 2:10:  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Colossians 3:23:  And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.

Isaiah 64:8:  But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay and You our potter; and we are the work of Your hand.

The Path Can Change

December 6, 2020  (Post #55)

(From Journal #7:  October 3, 2006)

Two days ago a friend called and asked me if I had a piece of art I would be willing to donate to be auctioned at an annual cancer fundraiser on October 20th. I immediately knew this was You challenging me to step up and take action.  I told her I didn’t have anything on hand that I felt great about donating but I would do a painting especially for the event.  

When I hung up the phone, I almost panicked. ”What was I thinking???”  There’s such little time to get it done!   And then my prayer literally was “Lord, if You don’t come through for me, I’m toast.”  I need You to show me what to paint and empower me to do it.  Then yesterday morning while taking a walk, You taught me something…

As I was walking home, You had me notice the sidewalk and think of it as walking on the path You have set before me.  But I could only see the path so far.  I could not see the final destination.  I so often want to see the “blueprints” of Your plans, when You have me on a “need-to-know” basis.  As I walked farther, I came to the left turn to get home.  I couldn’t see that turn earlier.  I thought I’d seen your straight path clearly from where I was, but You told me to turn left.  

We get off the path, don’t we Lord?  We get ahead of You and decide what we’re to do based on what we see today and then we don’t always hear Your small still voice saying, “Turn here.”  And I realized that even if I’d not turned left, I could still get back home, but it would take longer and I’d have to walk a different path that wasn’t as easy.  

After our walk, I just started looking through magazines and saw a photo reference of a couple bottles of wine alongside a glass of red wine that really spoke to me.  I’ve never painted anything like this before; glass is hard to paint.  I continued looking at other photos, but kept going back to this one. I felt this was the path I’m to take for this auction.  I wanted to do a large painting, so sketching it out was mathematically challenging to calculate the proportions relative to the size of the canvas.  But I stayed calm and I think I got it, thanks to You.  Today, I want to start laying down some paint and do what I know to do at this point on the path and listen for You to tell me when to change direction.

Isaiah 30:21:  Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Proverbs 3:5-6:  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 16:9:  A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.